As much as predators have been proven to be an important part of any healthy ecosystem, they often get the short end of the stick when it comes to dealing with humans. Wolves in Washington state have been killed in order to protect cattle rancher interests, in spite of their dwindling numbers. Meanwhile, mountain lions are victims of trophy hunting. In the past decade, 29,000 mountain lions have been killed in the U.S., and legislators have done little to protect their rapidly declining populations due to the inaccurate perception that these big cats pose a big risk to humans. In many instances involving mountain lion-human conflict, the animals are the ones that lose out – but one recent case where this did not happen gives us hope.
According to Malibu Times, a rancher recently obtained a permit to kill a mountain lion after losing 10 alpacas last month. The mountain lion in question would be killed if it entered a 10-mile radius of her ranch within the next 10 days. This sparked outrage in the local community and rightly so. A crowd of over 300 people showed up to protest the permit.
Lions are predators and as predators, they hunt for their food. According to that same article, the alpacas were not kept in a secure enclosure at night and did not have a guard dog present to keep intruders at bay. So essentially, the alpacas in question were sitting ducks to any hungry predator in their area — the fact that the rancher did not have the funds to keep her alpacas safe should not lead to the death of a lion who looked at the herd and saw an easy meal. Luckily, the rancher stated that she would not act on the permit. In a statement by LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, she said, “I’m very grateful to the property owner for her willingness to work with [various agencies and nonprofits] to spare the life of one of the precious few mountain lions left in our Santa Monica Mountains.”
It’s absurd that any human should settle down with livestock in an area with large-scale predators like mountain lions and expect no problems. But, to the rancher’s credit, she did admit that she didn’t realize that there were mountain lions in the area and once she was called out by her community on obtaining a permit to have the lion killed, she backed down. Instead, her alpacas will soon have a safe enclosure where they can sleep at night.
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